Statins May Double Risk of Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Victoria A. Zigmont, PhD MPH Southern Connecticut State University/ Department of Public Health Assistant Professor New Haven, CT

Dr. Zigmont

Victoria A. Zigmont, PhD MPH
Southern Connecticut State University
Department of Public Health
Assistant Professor
New Haven, CT

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

  • We were interested in conducting this study to better understand the diabetogenic risks (dysglycemia (measured using elevated HbA1c) and new diagnoses of diabetes) associated with statin use for everyday people in the general population.
  • We conducted a retrospective cohort study and compared new users of statins to equivalent nonusers of statins. All of the study participants had indications for statin use in their electronic medical records for the primary (patients without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD)) or secondary prevention (patients who have had CVD) of CVD. This study used pharmacy and medical claims, and biometric data as well as data from a health survey.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: After adjusting for confounding factors (age, gender, education level, ethnicity, cholesterol and triglyceride readings, body mass index, waist circumference and the number of visits to the doctor) statin users had at least double the risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus compared to statin nonusers. Individuals who used statins for the longest period of time (more than 2 years) had an even greater risk (3 times greater) for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, after adjusting for confounding factors.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

  • These study findings indicate that statin users should receive special guidance on diet and physical activity for diabetes prevention from their medical care team. These individuals should also receive close monitoring to detect changes in glucose metabolism.
  • Statins are a well-established way to prevent heart attacks and strokes. It could be harmful if patients stopped taking their statins, and they should talk to their physicians if they have concerns about side effects associated with their medications.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Further research is needed to understand which statins and doses lead to a greater risk of diabetes, and well as the impact of statins on human metabolism. Clinical studies testing new medications should report on the risks and benefits in addition to the desired clinical outcomes.

This study was conducted as part of my doctoral dissertation at the Ohio State University. I am now an assistant professor at Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven). The study co-authors were Drs. Susan Olivo-Marston (dissertation advisor), Abigail Shoben, Bo Lu, Steven Clinton, Randall Harris and Gail Kaye. 

Citation:

Victoria A. Zigmont, Abigail B. Shoben, Bo Lu, Gail L. Kaye, Steven K. Clinton, Randall E. Harris, Susan E. Olivo‐Marston. Statin users have an elevated risk of dysglycemia and new‐onset‐diabetes. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 2019; e3189 DOI: 1002/dmrr.3189

 

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2 thoughts on “Statins May Double Risk of Diabetes

  1. Well, this information has been known for about twenty years. It occurs in those with metabolic syndrome risk factors. The benefit of statins are not diminished of course. Those of us in primary care must continue to fight obesity, inactivity and smoking. The rules have not changed.

  2. It is simply impossible to adjust for all confounding factors in a retrospective cohort study. The patients treated with statins were almost certainly “sicker” than those not treated with statin, and likely had higher baseline risk for diabetes. The title of this article, “Statins may double risk of diabetes,” implies a cause-and-effect relationship, which is an irresponsible conclusion. This is not a prospective, blinded, randomized trial. At most, this is hypothesis generating. The media will pick this up, and patients will read sensational headlines and quite possibly stop their needed statin therapy. It should be withdrawn from publication.

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